German Millennials among most ‘immigrant-friendly’ in Europe

A new report released on Wednesday about European young people shows that Germans tend to be the most open-minded about immigration into their country.

German Millennials among most 'immigrant-friendly' in Europe
A demonstration in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

A study entitled Generation What? by German public broadcasters ZDF, Südwestrundfunk and Bayerischer Rundfunk showed that Germans between the ages of 18 and 34 are among the most open-minded towards immigration in Europe. 

The study compared survey results from more than 200,000 young people from 11 countries across Europe.

One of the findings was that German Millennials tended to be the most open-minded about immigration. When asked, for example, whether they felt that foreigners moving to Germany “enriched” the country’s cultural diversity, 80 percent of Germans said “yes”. This was the highest amount of any country.

Spaniards and Luxembourgians came close behind at 78 percent and 76 percent agreement, respectively.

Germans and Spaniards were also least likely to say they were concerned about immigration. Just 13 percent of Germans and 11 percent of Spaniards listed immigration as their top three most pressing worries.

The results are especially interesting in light of European countries' different approaches to the refugee crisis: Germany has taken in the largest numbers of asylum seekers in recent years amid global conflicts, while Spain has taken in relatively few compared to other large Western European countries.

In comparison, those in Germany’s neighbouring countries were much more distraught about immigration, with 30 percent in the Czech Republic, 29 percent in Austria, and 26 percent in Switzerland listing the topic as one of their chief worries.

And even in theoretical financial hard times, Germans were the most willing to accept foreign workers. The survey asked participants whether they agreed with this statement: “In times of high unemployment, jobs should be reserved for a country’s own people.”

Less than one in four (24 percent) of German Millennials agreed with this notion, which was the least amount of any country by far. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 58 percent of Austrians, and 57 percent of Czech respondents insisted that domestic work positions be maintained for a country’s citizens.

German young people distrust authority the least

Another area where German youth stood out was within the topic of distrust of institutions.

German young people in general tend to harbour distrust towards authority figures, similarly to their counterparts in all other countries surveyed. But at the same time Germans were at times less distrustful than their European peers.

Overall across Europe, 58 percent said they had absolutely no trust in religious institutions. But this level of distrust was lower in Germany where 47 percent – less than half – said they felt the same. This put Germany at the bottom of the pile for scepticism about religion.

When asked about whether they trusted the justice system, 40 percent of Germans said they had no trust in this institution, which placed it again at the bottom, except for the Czech Republic at 36 percent. In comparison, 58 percent young Europeans overall did not trust their justice systems, and Greeks were the most wary at 79 percent.

And when it comes to politicians, Germans again were the least suspicious of their leaders. Less than one-fourth (23 percent) of Germans said they definitely did not trust politicians, while overall 45 percent of young Europeans had absolutely no trust in political elites.